Yale group pushes ‘new music’



With its name originating from the Japanese word for “to play,” the So Percussion Group is attempting to popularize the percussion quartet with energetic performances of what they call “new music.”

Sunday afternoon, approximately 200 people attended a concert performed by the So Percussion Group at the Yale Center for British Art. The group, founded in 1999, is a quartet of musicians who met while they were students at the Yale School of Music and were assigned to play a piece together for the Yale Percussion Ensemble. The group held its first concert at the Yale Center for British Art, which subsequently invited them back to perform yesterday’s concert.

Jason Treuting MUS ’02 described his group’s music as “new music.”

“Sometimes it’s really weird and sometimes people don’t like it,” he said. “But when we play it, people like it.”

The audience’s response to the group’s performance was positive.

Sophia Emigh ’05, who attended the concert, said she would be interested in learning about the composition process for the group’s music because of the complexity and precision of the music. “They must be a very close ensemble,” she said. “It was a very energetic and charismatic performance.”

Group members said they try to commission work from composers and approximately 75 percent of their music is composed expressly for them.

At the concert the group performed four pieces, all composed for them, including a world premiere piece by Payton MacDonald. Treuting described this piece as the “science fiction part of the afternoon.”

So Percussion Group uses a variety of percussion instruments and creates many of their own instruments themselves. Group members said they hope this variety will interest the audience.

“Even if they feel they don’t understand, they can at least get into the different instruments,” Adam Sliwinski MUS ’03 said.

The group aims to bring their type of music into the mainstream. While they have already performed in Texas and Minnesota, they said they hope to expand their touring to the rest of the country and eventually the world.

“We want people to consider percussion quartet more on the level of a string quartet,” Sliwinski said.

As the music form is relatively new, the group members look forward to adding to their current repertoire.

“We hope to take this to a higher level,” said Douglas Perkins MUS ’01, an instruction assistant in the non-student music department. “We don’t want to be the runts of the world. We want to travel and bring music to more people.”

The group’s current repertoire includes the works of Music School graduates and faculty, such as Dennis DeSantis ’99, and Kathryn Alexander, an associate professor in the music department.

In the near future, the group intends to concentrate their performances in New York and Connecticut.

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